Upselling requires mix of help from tech, relationships
Upselling requires mix of help from tech, relationships
09 JANUARY 2020 9:46 AM

Utilizing mobile apps, self-serve tablets and the check-in process are great ways to upsell hotel services and bring in incremental revenue from a hotel’s spa or F&B outlet.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—While upselling has always existed to some extent in the hospitality industry, today’s savvy hoteliers are using mobile apps and the entire check-in process like never before to promote their restaurants, lounges, spas and other services and amenities that help bring in more earnings.

Best practices for upselling include connecting to guests and offering truly personalized attention, said Robert Rauch, founder, chairman and CEO of RAR Hospitality.

“This is easy; it is just time consuming and requires the right personality on the part of guest-facing staff,” Rauch said.

Helping guests out with their technology by having an on-site expert is something RAR is contemplating doing, Rauch said. This could be a way to help upsell the higher cost Wi-Fi.

“Really, only the millennials can figure out tech options without any guidance. Whether it is streaming an event, taking better photos, one would be amazed at how many guests still struggle with technology, which is around 15% to 20% of them,” he said.

The Santa Clara Marriott in California upsells its value-added amenities, such as its dining outlets and M Club Lounge, by advertising them on its website with images and information about each venue, said Mark Evans, director of sales and marketing.

The property also sends a pre-arrival email out to all guests informing them of the hotel’s offerings and information on the M Club, which features daily breakfast, midday snacks and beverages, evening appetizers and bar service for Bonvoy Platinum Elite and higher members, Evans added. The hotel makes sure to communicate to guests at check-in that if they are not at the required status, they may pay an additional fee for access.

“Check-in time is always an opportunity to upsell an upgraded room or access to the M Club,” Evans said.

Santa Clara Marriott’s mobile app is another way to get room upgrades during the pre-arrival process, he said.

At The Adolphus hotel in Dallas, Brett Orlando, SVP of operations at Makeready, the management company that oversees the hotel, said building relationships with guests is a key part of upselling.

“We find the most success in upselling services when our team creates a relationship and has an in-person connection with a guest upon arrival. When that happens, we’re able to curate experiences as we learn more about that guest and find opportunities to personalize their stay. for example, if they’re celebrating a special occasion,” Orlando said.

The Adolphus also has hosted activations in its lobby such as express spa treatments and complimentary chair massages, he said.

“This is a great opportunity for the spa team to engage guests in the moment and remind visitors that we have a luxury spa on property that offers manicures, pedicures and a full-service salon, in addition to spa therapies,” Orlando said.

Giving its team the ability, support and incentives to upsell with the guest upon arrival has worked well for the hotel, he said. The property’s front-desk team upsells an average of $20,000 per month with guests at check-in.

The challenge for upselling comes when the hotel is sold out of suites or special room types for upgrades or the spa is extremely busy. In those instances, The Adolphus will approach guests with add-on opportunities. For instance, if a guest is already receiving a spa treatment, perhaps that person would be interested in a paraffin wax or another spa enhancement, Orlando said.

The Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia, relies on in-room technology to help upsell services, according to Joe Hanning, marketing and communications manager.

“As a resort, we make every effort to create as many touchpoints as possible without being invasive. Our in-room tablets are a quiet reminder at bedside of our additional services and amenities, but we also use on-property TV monitors as friendly reminders of our events, activities and amenities,” Hanning said.

Through the in-room devices, the guests are able to make restaurant reservations and book activities, he said.

“The in-room tablets provide us with a low-key way to show guests what other experiences are available to enrich their vacation,” Hanning said. “These tablets also provide the staff with important insights and data to see how many guests are clicking or viewing the information portrayed on each device.”

In addition, Boar’s Head Resort has designated kiosks and informational stations in high-traffic areas, where staffers can leave collateral pieces.

“Being a resort in a bustling town, there is a lot of competition for dining and activities. Unlike a more secluded resort, our guests have many options on and off the resort. Our goal is to make sure we offer our services and provide advice for other local attractions,” Hanning said.

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